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The First Two Years of Insanity

The press recently ran stories about Americans reliving the horrors of 9/11 through released emergency-call transcripts that include the last gasps of doomed souls. Am I the only one struck by the extremely odd nature of this story?

Why would people expose themselves to material that might well be regarded as pornographic when used for anything other than an official investigation?

The normal human brain works to soften or blot out memories of intensely disturbing events, otherwise no one could function in times of crisis, and no one could survive imprisonment or torture. You grieve for a while, and then you go on with the often hard business of living. Occasionally, you grieve briefly again, but when you actually indulge a taste for the grim past–and reading the desperate gasps of the dying is about as grim as it gets–either you need professional help or you are trying to exploit the dead to some purpose.

Why would a respectable newspaper print such material? Well, I recall a service station in Massachusetts with gas pumps that blinked out a message with multiple exclamation points never to forget 9/11, over and over, as you filled your tank. What this had to do with selling gasoline I don’t know, but it reflected a frenzied, dangerous kind of thinking, the thinking of those ready to subject themselves and others to some form of control.

A recent poll shows that about 70% of Americans believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11. That is to say, two years after the fact, most Americans believe an absolute fantasy, not supported by any evidence. Poor old Hussein had a hard enough time for years just holding things together in Iraq–a feat the vast armies and resources of the United States appear incapable of repeating–without running off and getting involved in terrorism.

All this should be abundantly clear to Americans by now. They occupy Iraq. They have looked into its every nook and cranny. There cannot be much there that American administrators do not now understand, yet somehow the basic facts of the situation remain unknown to most Americans. Instead they embrace fantasy.

Indeed, it should have all been clear long before invading and occupying the place. With all the electromagnetic intercepts, spy satellites, and daily over-flights of the last decade, Iraq probably qualified as the CIA’s most intensively-recorded country.

Bush unblinkingly calls Iraq the central front in the war on terror, but that’s what a skulking politician does as he asks for another $87 billion to clean up a horrible mess he created. And what a platter of tax-payer goodies to set before friends and supporters! There’s a mother load of public paranoia and misinformation out there to be mined, and Bush isn’t about to set to work clearing it away.

America’s velvet-glove fascists, the neocons, have exploited 9/11 relentlessly. In some respects their activities do resemble the Nazis’ exploitation of the Reichstag fire. Then, the act of a mentally unstable man from Holland was immediately seized upon to justify a quick and systematic destruction of the hated Weimar Republic, whose Chancellor Hitler had only just been appointed.

Bush’s government was floundering before 9/11. He was well along to earning full recognition of his vacuity–a notable achievement considering the immense resources employed to “airbrush” a President’s every move. Fate in the form of nineteen mentally unstable men from the Middle East intervened and dumped at his feet the gifts of excessive public fear and credulity.

Two years after 9/11 the world is forced to accommodate an unhealthy, delusional America, like adults fearful of confronting a disturbed child who paces the schoolyard mumbling while carrying a loaded gun taken from home. It is not an exaggeration to say that the situation often involves less rationality and predictability than we knew from Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.

JOHN CHUCKMAN lives in Canada and can be reached at: chuckman@counterpunch.org.

 

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